What is your focus for 2013? Will you stick to the knitting?

The term “Stick to the knitting” was popularised in the 1982 book “In Search of Excellence” by Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jn. This means focus on what you do best. Focus on your core business.

Stick to the knitting

We can look at this a number of ways, but put simply the performance and results you get from your business can be magnified if you focus on your core business competencies. It is more relevant now than ever before. In the internet age there is no need to reinvent the wheel as many of the tasks that are not core to revenue production can be outsourced in some way.

Simple examples of this are things like..

  • Bookkeeping
  • IT support
  • Dstribution and so on…

I’m certain that most small business people can do their own books,  but doesn’t that take you away from your core purpose? In addition you need to consider that the time you spend in doing the books, you can be building your business and generating more income over and above the costs of outsourcing the work.  You could employ a bookkeeper or just dump the receipts in a shoe box for the accountant to sort out, but neither of these are a good use of your funds. As for IT support, your time is valuable so why not use an outside source to manage your IT systems.

You can use of services from virtual assistants or specialist suppliers from places like India or the Philippines. I regularly utilise the services of a small team from India to crop and prepare photo’s for websites at a fraction of the cost of doing the work in house or even getting it done locally. Even sites such as elance.com provide great options for designing marketing material, logo’s, brochures and more. There is an endless stream of services that can be done by others at great rates.

The key to staying lean, flexible and profitable is to minimise the non-core activities performed in house by your business and hand that work over to professionals that can do a better and faster job… as it is their core business so you can focus your resources on your knitting.


5 thoughts on “What is your focus for 2013? Will you stick to the knitting?

  1. I agree with a caveat.
    Many small business operators I interact with are very functionally focussed, and outside their area of expertise, are badly deficient. Successful outsourcing requires sufficient expertise to at least be able to ask the right questions, monitor performance, and choose an “outsourcee” that will reliably deliver the service, even in the relative absence of sensible performance measures.
    Before successfully outsourcing jobs, SME owners need the capability to tell the difference between the sausage and the sizzle that will come back at them.
    In short, outsourcing is usually a moderately complex task in itself, something that requires a set of capabilities that need to be built.

    1. Thank you for the feedback. Yes I agree and your points are very valid. From the perspective I’m looking at it’s more of “task” outsourcing rather than function and maybe I should have clarified that further in the post.

  2. Don, great blog – I’ve been using this expression for YEARS – after all I am sure it was my grandma who coined it! Having worked in Wipro (one of India’s biggest outsourcers) I’ve been on both sides. Outsourcing can be both efficient and effective – BUT as ‘strategyaudit’ points out it does require very clearly defined outcomes with a bullet-proof set of instructions. Another imperative is a basic recognition that when sending work offshore you are also engaging with a different culture who will have different ways of seeing and doing things – this can be another great reason to outsource if applied wisely.

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